WHITE PLAINS – Every soccer player wants to see their name at the top of the scoring list, but New Rochelle has come to the conclusion that gaudy stats don’t always translate into wins.
The Huguenots are stressing a team-oriented approach this season, with 11 different players having chipped in at least one goal through eight games. That strategy continued to pay dividends on Monday in a 2-0 win over league rival White Plains.
“We’ve realized that we work best when we’re unselfish,” senior captain Omar Tejeda said. “That was one of our main objectives in the preseason — to work as a team — because everybody has great talent. It’s been working for us so far.”
New Rochelle’s leading scorer is actually a defensive player, Felipe Tobin, which only reinforces the emphasis on equal distribution. Tobin scored the ever-important second goal on a header in the 47th minute after Tremaine Bryant gave the Huguenots the initial lead in the 15th.
The win had a stabilizing effect after a disappointing stretch during which New Rochelle tied Mount Vernon and got blown out by Mamaroneck.
“We were definitely looking at it as an opportunity to get back on track and get back on a winning streak,” senior Ethan Manley said. “We took the loss to Mamaroneck seriously, but we also took it as a learning opportunity. We wanted to come out here and play a good game. We think we improved a lot from that game.”
Player of the game: Danny Ayala, New Rochelle — The senior goalkeeper was brilliant with some clutch stops down the stretch. He finished with eight saves, including two on breakaway opportunities from White Plains’ leading scorer, Alessandro Battaglia.
“He was absolutely terrific,” Manley said. “Danny Ayala came up with humongous stops today. We couldn’t have done it without him.”
Turning point: In the 64th minute, Ayala didn’t hesitate as Battaglia slipped loose and charged towards the net. Ayala came sliding out and blocked the shot just as Battaglia got it off, which turned out to be the Tigers’ final quality chance to cut into New Ro’s lead.
Stat line: New Rochelle (5-2-1) — Bryant and Tobin scored on assists from Omar Espinoza and Harwan Alzuabidi. Ayala made eight saves and the Huguenots took 15 shots. White Plains (5-4) — Fabio Nierhoff made six saves and the Tigers took 12 shots.
Quotable: “It’s a senior-packed team, and we’ve all been playing together since we were 8 and 9 years old,” Tejeda said. “Everybody here has played on the same team before and we have big expectations this year. I was with (coach Jarohan) Garcia his first year — he pulled me up from JV as a sophomore — and it was a great learning experience for me. It’s been getting better and better every year.”